The scene of the crash in Mendoza that left 19 people dead

Argentina is known for many things; the safety and quality of its drivers and roads are not among them. The latest report from the Institute Of Traffic and Road Safety Education (ISEV) has found that the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents has increased by 25% in the last year. And it’s not like last year’s number were low. The study informs that there is an increasing number of cars on the roads yet they lack the necessary preventative controls to reduce the number of accidents.

However, the increase in deaths can not only be attributed to the increase in cars on the road, but also to the irresponsible attitude of Argentine drivers, and their lack of awareness of how dangerous driving is. “We have to think as a society about how we view these accidents. To put it into context, the same day that two people died at the [Carlos “Indio” Solari] concert in Olavarria, 25 more died from car accidents” said Eduardo Bertotti, director of the ISEV.

The study also sheds light on the nature of traffic accidents that took place in February. One in three involved a motorbike. 67% of them caused head injuries to those involved, and 51% of the people who died were under the age of 30. Sunday was deemed the most dangerous day.

The crashes usually take place in urban areas between noon and 6 PM and the most common ones are those where cars crash into the side of one another. The report also noted a 4.9 increase in serious traffic accidents compared to the previous year. The only statistical decrease in the entire report was that of serious injuries (where people at least get a bone fractures), which fell by 0.7% in comparison to 2016.

“There is a culture of inevitability that Argentines have towards accidents” said Bertotti. “They naturalise them as if they were something planned by God; by shifting the responsibility to a third party this counteracts any meaningful attempts to try and prevent the behavior that causes the accidents”.

Talking to Clarín, a specialist echoed Bertotti’s condemnation of the Argentine attitude towards accidents. “People cross the road without looking and drive at a dangerous speed. We need to break this attitude with road safety education”.

The increased mortality rate this year was heavily impacted by accidents such as the ones that took place on the 18th and 24th of February. The first took place when a TurBus bus crashed in Mendoza while en route to Chile, killing 19 people and seriously injuring 21 more. The second tragedy on the 24th took place in Santa Fe when two buses rammed into each other head-on in the Perez region; 12 were left dead and 34 left injured.

Argentina is not only one of the countries with the highest rate of traffic accidents, but also its rate has remained consistently high with around 7500 deaths per year since 1990. Other countries which in fact had higher accident rates such as Spain have subsequently taken preventative measures and reduced their mortality rate by 81%. Not us.